“Begin doing what you want to do now. We are not living in eternity. We have only this moment, sparkling like a star in our hand - and melting like a snowflake.”
- Francis Bacon

Saturday, December 19, 2009

♥Pink Saturday had to take a back-seat to three, little boys♥

I must apologize to all who came here to see a Pink Saturday post. At the last minute I was called upon by my son and his wife to have my three grandsons for a sleepover so mom and dad could finish up holiday shopping and wrapping without little eyes peeking into packages. Of course, I agreed. There was no doubt!

Sadly, as a result, my Pink Saturday post was not completed. I had such cute goodies to show all of you but when I am called upon to have little boys overnight - well, there is NO contest!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Winter in the city...my neighborhood wrapped in snow

I live in the city, about a mile from the Canadian border. My neighborhood, recently designated historical, is filled with homes 100+ years in age. Mine is an Edwardian - others are highly ornate Victorians - painted ladies - craftsman. A few homes, just around the corner from mine, sold as a kit in the old Sears & Roebuck Catalog at the turn of the century for about $750.00 complete!

Winter in the city is much different than in the country. In some ways it is more magical. On evening walks with my dog, lights twinkle off newly fallen snow - multi-colored reflecting pools of holiday cheer. During the day, you can take a short walk and see little chickadees flitting back and forth grabbing sunflower seeds from generous feeders - a fluffy black squirrel running up the side of a tree with a peanut (an offering from a kindly resident) all set to have a holiday snack. When the wind blows gently, all around you snowflakes will softly make their way to earth - you feel as though you are on the inside of a winter-wonderland snow globe. The tiny flakes land on your eyelashes and mittens and nose and hair. The dog you are walking begins to change color from red to white.

When snow falls quietly - without wind to disturb its assent to earth from the heavens -  it will perch itself on every object forming a cold, soft pillow - a pillow that can be disturbed with the slightest movement of air. Millions of perfect, one-of-a-kind buddies stack on each other until a little dusting of snow becomes a mound of white perfection. The old Adirondack chair left outdoors takes on new life appearing as though it is cushioned with down, soft and white - it looks inviting and comfortable - a place to rest a tired and weary soul. The corner fire hydrant sports a soldier's helmet - standing straight and tall - at the ready - waiting for a call to service at a moment's notice.

That's my house in the middle photo
Winter in the city doesn't provide vast expanses of trees with not a sound to be heard. You won't find the undisturbed tracks of deer or bear. You won't be able to lay down right where you are to make a snow angel as you did when you were a child (you'll need to go home for that). But, at the right time and under the right circumstances, it has a magic all its own - a magic that comforts the heart and beckons you to visit a neighbor or wave at a stranger as you pass by or take your long-suffering dog for a walk or just stroll through your neighborhood as the natural light fades and the holiday lights on the surrounding homes paint the evening taking you back to your childhood and the wonder you felt waiting for Christmas to arrive.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

♥Holiday Sun-dried Tomato, Herb and Cheese Spread♥

This is good - really good - finger lickin' good☺ I've been loading all of you up with sweets so I thought it was about time I took you down from your sugar high. Not only is this pretty - it is absolutely DELICIOUS!


2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup butter, softened
1 teaspoon salt, divided
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 1/3 cups sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained
2 (3-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened and divided
1/3 cup tomato paste
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 1/2 cups firmly packed fresh basil
1/4 cup pine nuts
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Vegetable cooking spray
Garnishes: fresh rosemary sprigs, sun-dried tomatoes
Crackers or baguette slices


Beat 2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, butter, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and pepper at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Set aside.

Process dried tomatoes in a food processor until chopped. Add 1 (3-ounce) package cream cheese, tomato paste, and 1/4 teaspoon salt; process until smooth, stopping to scrape down sides. Spoon into a bowl, and set aside. Wipe container of food processor clean.

Process garlic and next 4 ingredients in food processor until chopped. Add Parmesan cheese, remaining 3-ounce package cream cheese, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt; pulse just until blended, stopping to scrape down sides.

Spray a 6-inch springform pan with cooking spray. Spread 1/2 cup butter mixture evenly on bottom of springform pan. Layer with half of tomato mixture, 1/2 cup butter mixture, and half of basil mixture; top with 1/2 cup butter mixture. Repeat layers with remaining tomato mixture, 1/2 cup butter mixture, and remaining basil mixture. Top with remaining butter mixture. Cover with plastic wrap; chill at least 8 hours.

Run a knife gently around edge of pan to loosen sides. Remove sides of pan; carefully remove bottom of pan, and place layered spread on a serving tray. Garnish, if desired. Serve with crackers or baguette slices.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Peppermint Patty's Candy Cane Cheesecake

Let's face it - candy canes are cute and sweet and adorable and fun but by the time Christmas is over and the tree is looking a little worn and sad - we look at those little candy canes and wonder what in the world we're going to do with them. Instead of making the kids eat them or tossing them in the trash or - horrors - keeping them until next year - how about a recycle and reuse recipe made specifically for using up the little orphan canes of Christmas.

This cheesecake is a great dessert with coffee or tea when guests arrive for the New Year or, heck, for YOU, because after all of the work that you've done these past weeks, well, you deserve a special treat!

2 cups oreo cookie crumbs
1/2 cup crushed candy canes
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter, melted

1 1/2 lb. cream cheese
1 1/2 tbsp. peppermint schnapps
1/2 tbsp. orange juice
1/2 tbsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 cup sugar
4 eggs
2 tbsp. sour cream
1/4 cup half and half
1 cup crushed candy canes


Combine all ingredients and mix well.
Butter two 8 inch cake pans.
Divide crumb mixture between the two pans, making 1/2 inch crust.

Beat cream cheese, schnapps, concentrate, vanilla, cream, and sugar together until light and fluffy.
Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition.
Add remaining ingredients and beat well until blended.
Fill both prepared pans with cheesecake batter. Place pans in water bath of boiling water and bake at 325 degrees for 1 1/2 hours.

Cool on rack and chill overnight.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

♥Stunning Chocolate Tassies with Peppermint Filling♥

Not into chocolate or want to cut some of the work? I've used ready made Mini Fillo Shells from my grocery freezer. Quick as a bunny you'll have a delicious holiday treat that will surely impress your family and guests.


1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup cold butter
1 egg yolk, slightly beaten
2 tablespoons cold water
Peppermint Cream Filling
Crushed peppermint candies


1. In a medium bowl, sir together flour, sugar, and cocoa powder. Using a pastry blender, cut in butter until mixture is crumbly. In a small bowl, combine egg yolk and the cold water. Gradually stir egg yolk mixture into flour mixture. Gently knead the dough just until a ball forms. If necessary, cover dough with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for 30 to 60 minutes or until dough is easy to handle.

2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Divide dough into 36 pieces. Press dough pieces onto bottoms and up sides of 1-3/4-inch muffin cups. Bake in preheated oven for 8 to 10 minutes or until shells are firm. Cool in muffin cups for 5 minutes. Remove shells from muffin cups. Cool completely.

3. To fill shells, prepare Peppermint Cream Filling. Using a pastry bag fitted with an open star tip, pipe Peppermint Cream Filling into shells. Sprinkle filling with crushed peppermint candies. Makes 36.

Peppermint Cream Filling: In a large bowl, combine 1/4 cup butter, softened; one 7-ounce jar marshmallow creme; and 1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract. Beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Gradually beat in 1-1/2 cups powdered sugar. Beat in 1 tablespoon milk. Beat in 1 cup powdered sugar. Using a wooden spoon, stir in 1 cup powdered sugar. If necessary, stir in enough additional milk, 1 teaspoon at a time, to make a filling of piping consistency.

TO STORE: Layer unfilled shells between pieces of waxed paper in an airtight container; cover. Store at room temperature for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw shells, if frozen. Fill as directed in Step 3.

Monday, December 14, 2009

♥Salty Ghirardelli Chocolate Pecan Bark♥

These are GOOD and I mean REALLY GOOD! Generally I will make a double batch - one to keep and one to gift. But, sometimes I keep both of them - shhhh, don't tell anyone


1 cup pecans, coarsely chopped
3 (4-oz.) bars bittersweet chocolate baking bars
3 (4-oz.) white chocolate baking bars
1 teaspoon coarse sea salt*


1. Place pecans in a single layer on a baking sheet.

2. Bake at 350° for 8 to 10 minutes or until toasted.

3. Line a 17- x 12-inch jelly-roll pan with parchment paper. Break each chocolate bar into 8 equal pieces. (You will have 48 pieces total.) Arrange in a checkerboard pattern in jelly-roll pan, alternating white and dark chocolate. (Pieces will touch.)

4. Bake at 225° for 5 minutes or just until chocolate is melted. Remove pan to a wire rack. Swirl chocolates into a marble pattern using a wooden pick. Sprinkle evenly with toasted pecans and salt.

5. Chill 1 hour or until firm. Break into pieces. Store in an airtight container in refrigerator up to 1 month.

*3/4 tsp. kosher salt may be substituted.

Note: I used Ghirardelli 60% Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate Baking Bars and Ghirardelli White Chocolate Baking Bars; however, others may be substituted.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

♥Rudolph 'n friends reindeer cookies♥

No time? Need to keep little hands busy? These little cutie pies will take care of both - and MORE. My grandsons will be here for a sleepover soon and guess what we're gonna do☺ BUT, you don't have to be a child to make these - all you have to be is a child at ♥.


* 1 roll (16.5 oz) Pillsbury® refrigerated sugar cookies
* 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
* 1 cup vanilla ready-to-spread frosting
* 64 small pretzel twists
* 64 semisweet chocolate chips (about 1/4 cup)
* 16 gumdrops, cut in half


1. Heat oven to 350°F. In large bowl, break up cookie dough; work flour into dough until well blended. Shape roll of cookie dough into triangle-shaped log. (If dough is too soft to cut, place in freezer 30 minutes.)

2. With thin sharp knife, cut dough into 32 (1/4-inch-thick) triangular slices; place 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet.

3. Bake 7 to 11 minutes or until set. Cool 1 minute; remove from cookie sheet to cooling rack. Cool completely, about 15 minutes.

4. Frost cookies with frosting. Place 2 pretzel twists on each triangle near corners for antlers. Lightly press 2 chocolate chips into each cookie for eyes and 1 halved gumdrop for nose. Store between sheets of waxed paper in tightly covered container.